In this edition we’re featuring writings on the indirect consequences of cryptocurrency, an immigrant’s take on expressions of affection, and a long read about a food scientist manipulating data for fame. We’re also sharing a new podcast from a popular TED speaker, a vegan recipe, the latest digs, and a short story on intention.
◦ selected words
Is Bitcoin a Waste of Electricity, or Something Worse?
It’d be hard to gather statistics to prove it, but the author’s suggestion that digital activities, especially crypto mining, is diverting labor, time, energy, and capital from more productive activities needs more attention. I’d take it a step further and add that much of the effort put into certain types of social media, gaming, and affiliate marketing as reasons why America and other countries are falling behind. As the author points out, at least with mining gold, you still have the gold to make things with. With bitcoin miners, you use up power which you can never get back, and also increases the price of electricity for other industries.
The New York Times (7min read)
The Perpetual Foreigners
“Immigrants: They get the job done”. That was the tweet by a New York Times writer and editor on the performance of U.S. figure skater Mirai Nagasu after she became the first American woman to land a triple axel at the Olympics. What ensued was a multi-sided Twitter explosion on race and identity that led to a conversation on how Asian-Americans are perpetually seen as immigrants, no matter how many generations have passed. Having not seen Hamilton, I didn’t get the reference at first either.
GQ (10min read)
Distinction Bias: Why You Make Terrible Life Choices
An illustrated look on the gap between expectations and reality, how it hurts us when we have to make decisions (especially those involving money and our own happiness), and three tips on how to better prepare yourself to outsmart your brain.
Nir and Far (5min read)
Say It with Noodles: On Learning to Speak the Language of Food
Like many local borns, I can relate to the lack of outward affection from my Chinese parents and grandparents. Just as in this beautifully illustrated story, as I got older I began to discover the different and subtle ways love is shown without words, and also how I’ve been repeating these patterns.
Catapult (5min illustrated read)
◦ listen in
Dear Billionaire, I Give You a D-Minus
Harvard’s youngest tenured professor at the age of 28 and author of three best-selling books, the last co-written with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, organizational psychologist Adam Grant has launched a smart new podcast. The first episode features, Ray Dalio, the businessman and author of “Principles”, an oft recommended book on professional development. In it, you’ll learn how to cultivate criticism to create a culture of radical transparency, so you can better dish it out and take it, in business and life.
WorkLife podcast with Adam Grant by TEDTalks (34min podcast)
◦ eat well
Vegan Mushroom Risotto
Risotto is one of those dishes I love to eat, but don’t often make. Maybe it’s the constant stirring or the need to run out and get Arborio rice and cheese. I was skeptical about a vegan version of this dish, but the secret is in the nutritional yeast to get that umami flavor. It’s also gluten-free!
◦ read slow
How a Food Scientist Turned Shoddy Data into Fame
It’s said you can massage data enough to tell any story you want. But this isn’t supposed to happen in modern science, and especially not from an Ivy League school. A startling investigation on how the head of Cornell University’s prestigious food psychology research used deceptive methods including “p-hacking” in published research to gain fame and funding.
Buzz Feed (21min read)
◦ current read
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451
Published in 1953 and sure to make it back to the bestsellers lists this Spring is HBO Films’ coming adaptation of the classic dystopian novel about a society that burns books to suppresses ideas and limit thought. If HBO is on it, that should be money in the bank, but it’s also starring Michael B. Jordan, fresh off of Black Panther success (playing the non-stereotypical villain), and who happened to have started his acting career on three of my favorite shows of all-time: The Sopranos, The Wire, and Friday Night Lights. In a world constantly at war, citizens are occupied with their TV sets and firemen start fires instead of putting them out, there are freakish parallels to our present world. Official teaser trailer on YouTube.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (174p book)
◦ dig this
What I’m digging lately:
- How to Raise a Boy – NYMag’s series on mascunity and raising a son in our times.
- Ask Science – Get answers from experts in their field in this subreddit. One of the smartest places on the Net.
- Wide-Angle Sketches – Artist Paul Heaston has mastered point of view sketching (link to IG).
- Natalia Lafourcade’s Tiny Desk Concert – With elements of jazz, folk, pop & rock, the Mexican singer-songwriter is one of Latin America’s leading talents. (Or listen on Spotify)
◦ humble thought
“The best way to prove yourself is to improve yourself.” – Adam Grant, WorkLife podcast episode 1
What is your most valuable resource?
In my childhood years, it seemed like there was an abundance of time. Long drives across the Trans-Canada to the BC Interior with my dad on work trips would seem to take forever. They were, of course, made less bearable by back-seat sibling feuds that would sometimes have my parents threaten to leave us on the side of the highway. More than a few times, they’d stop the car and we’d be in tears, thinking they’d actually follow through on it.
As a teenager and stretching into university, I pissed away more than my fair share of time playing video games and toying around with computers, often alone, just for the novelty of it. Art was talked out of me early in my childhood, and I had no creative role models to speak of. The mantra was to be a doctor, a dentist, accountant, or an engineer. Anything less was a failure.
Then at my first corporate job, during Calgary’s economic boom, my leisure time was spent predictably. Evenings were filled up with sports. Playing some, but mostly watching while drinking Crown & Cokes and chasing women unsuccessfully. I was fortunate that I could get comp’d tickets to see hockey games, but often it wasn’t even about the hockey — we’d go just for the free drinks. After one more invitation and free tickets to that night’s Calgary Flames game (most tickets were last minute), I could see the night play out in crystal clarity.
Since there wasn’t enough time to go home before the 7pm puck drop, we’d gather up friends and start to drink at whatever was the popular pub of the time. Then we’d walk over to the Saddledome, and win or lose, drink copious amounts of Molson Canadian in plastic cups (there’s much more interesting beers these days). And after most games, especially the wins, we’d celebrate by stumbling to another bar or club. By the time I got home, it was at least 11pm and my head was spinning. But this time I paused and thought — I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to reclaim my time.
That decision was pivotal. Friends and colleagues would protest, but I held my stance. It was one of the first times I would make intentional living choices and go against the norm. Looking back, it’s incredible how long I went repeating patterns and the percentage of time I spent barely conscious. You could argue it’s something I had to go through to be who I am today.
So lately I’ve been thinking, what is not visible to me now? Where am I on auto-pilot? I don’t have the answers, but if this resonates with you, hit reply and share what you’ve been through or are going through. It’s through our stories that we can help each other transform and make a dent in the world.